This Letter explores the possibility of testing pulsar radio emission models by observing pulse-to-pulse intensity modulation. It is shown that a relationship between a pulsar's period, period derivative, and intensity modulation is a natural consequence of at least one theoretical model of radio pulsar emission. It is proposed that other models may also predict a similar correlation. The exact form of the relationship will depend on the model in question. Hence, observations of intensity modulation should be able to determine the validity of the various emission models. In an attempt to search for the predicted dependencies, the modulation properties of a set of 12 pulsars are studied. These data are suggestive, but they are unable to differentiate between three possibilities for the emission process. Future observations will be able to confirm these results and determine whether or not specific emission models are viable.
Fredrick A. Jenet, et. al., (2003) Using the intensity modulation index to test pulsar radio emission models.Astrophysical Journal596:2L215. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1086/379501